Every year on October 11, we celebrate National Coming Out Day, and this year we here at FANGRRLS wanted to recognize some of the best coming-out moments of genre TV.
National Coming Out Day marks both the anniversary of the 1987 March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights and the opportunity for LGBTQ+ folks to announce and celebrate our sexualities.
Of course, coming out is a bittersweet concept, part queer rite and part societally enforced burden. Some people experience coming out as a form of liberation. Others grow tired of the constant need to label and define themselves, preferring to just be. Additionally, coming out is something straight people are never expected to do, and consistently having to define oneself as “other” can be discouraging and frustrating.
That said, there are many ways to come out, and many of us do so multiple times, including to ourselves, our loved ones, our wider social circles, and society. Without disregarding the additional pressure on queer people that coming out creates, it’s important to acknowledge that coming out is a truly unique, and sometimes beautiful, part of being queer.
In celebration of all of you who have come out, are coming out, want to come out, or may never come out, here are six coming-out moments from genre TV.
Alex Danvers, Supergirl - Season 2, Episode 6: “Changing”
Earlier in Season 2, Alex Danvers, badass DEO agent and sister of Kara, aka Supergirl, discovered that she might not be as straight as she thought she was. Maggie Sawyer, an amazing detective, helps Alex acknowledge her sexuality, in part by stirring feelings in her unlike anything she’s ever felt before. In “Changing,” Maggie encourages Alex to come out to her family because she doesn’t think anyone should have to go through coming out alone.
Alex feels bewildered by her lesbian epiphany, doubting if it’s true and claiming that being almost 30 means she’s too late. When she talks to Kara and her response is less than effusive, Alex ends the conversation, believing her worst fears have come true.
Luckily, Alex later confronts Kara, who clarifies that she was only surprised, not reticent to accept Alex’s sexuality. It is Kara who apologizes and when she does, the two sisters grow closer than ever before. It’s a wonderful moment of sisterly love and acceptance—and the whole episode is a testament to the power of sharing yourself with someone else.
Toni Topaz, Riverdale - Season 2, Episode 6: “Death Proof”
Toni Topaz made her arrival on Riverdale in Season 2, bringing her pink highlights and badassery to the Archie gang. As Southside Serpents, she and Jughead bond over their shared outsider status and their shared attraction.
After the two make out and Toni stays over, they share breakfast together. Jughead tries to have “the conversation,” but Toni beats him to it, stating that he’s not over Betty, his ex. She also casually mentions, “Besides, I’m more into girls anyways.” Despite raising an eyebrow, Jughead, to his credit, accepts her declaration without a question, simply replying, “Roger that.”
The most endearing aspect of Toni’s coming out is that it is so simple, so no-nonsense, without explaining, justifying, or hiding who she is. Toni simply acknowledges her bisexuality, even as she indicates that she is mostly attracted to one gender.
Be forewarned that as wonderful as Toni’s coming out moment is, the other storylines of this episode could be triggering to survivors of sexual assault.
Waverly Earp, Wynonna Earp - Season 1, Episode 9: “Bury Me With My Guns On”
Waverly Earp was perfectly unhappy living in her Revenant-filled small town with her less-than-stellar boyfriend. Then Officer Nicole Haught came to Purgatory and threw Waverly’s world out of orbit.
In “Bury Me With My Guns On,” Waverly and Nicole, aka WayHaught, are locked in a confusing, scintillating dance where they each try to figure out what they want and what the other person wants. Waverly finds herself overwhelmed by how quickly things are changing, including her own attraction to Nicole.
While Waverly is waffling over what to do, she shares a brief moment with her aunt where her aunt recognizes Waverly’s sexuality and encourages her to go after “who she wants.” It seems like that was just the push Waverly needed because shortly thereafter she goes to see Nicole at the police station. The two make out and thus begins the greatest love story ever told.
The whole episode is fantastic, not just because it contains the first WayHaught kiss, but also because it focuses on the oft-overlooked internal aspects of coming out to oneself.
Todd Chavez, BoJack Horseman - Season 3, Episode 12: “That Went Well”
In the totally wild world of BoJack Horseman, filled with talking animals that are some kind of human-animal hybrids, Todd Chavez, BoJack’s best friend and sometimes roommate, stands out as an accidental entrepreneur. Todd regularly makes up companies or wanders into an office and gets hired to run a company. Why? Because he’s Todd and this is BoJack Horseman.
Up until “That Went Well,” Todd’s sexuality has been ambiguous. He shows interest in a female character, but ultimately doesn’t want to be sexual with her. When she confronts him, another example of having “the conversation,” she asks him if he’s gay. He says, “I’m not gay. I mean, I don’t think I am. But I don’t think I’m straight either. I don’t know what I am. I think I might be nothing.”
His friend accepts him and they simply move on. It’s such a wholesome, simple moment that acknowledges who Todd is without making him know exactly what that means yet. Later episodes do find Todd exploring his asexuality, including dating another asexual person.
Garnet, Steven Universe - Season 1, Episode 49: “Jail Break”
When the colonizing Gems of Homeworld return, the Crystal Gems, rebels and defenders of Earth, are forced into an unwinnable fight. Garnet, their leader, attacks the strongest fighter head-on, only to have her physical form disintegrated, leaving her gems to clatter to the ground.
In “Jail Break,” our plucky band of heroes find themselves held captive on a spaceship headed back across the universe toward Homeworld. Steven frees himself from his holding cell, also freeing a neighboring inmate, Ruby. She has only one desire: to find Sapphire, another Gem. When they reunite, the two hug and kiss and laugh, suddenly fusing into Garnet. For the uninitiated, fusion is the process where two Gems merge and become an amalgam of their individual physical and personality traits. What results is someone entirely new who has her own thoughts, feelings, and preferences. If it still doesn’t make sense, Garnet explains it all perfectly in this episode through her song, “Stronger Than You.”
Up until this episode, neither the viewer nor Steven knows that Garnet is a fusion, though in retrospect, many of the earlier events suddenly make sense. While how Garnet comes out is challenging in some ways — she’s literally forced to un-fuse — there are many powerful aspects: Garnet’s confidence, Ruby and Sapphire’s love, and Steven’s joy at getting to know his friend better, accepting and celebrating her identity and their relationship. When we learn later that Garnet is the first fusion of her kind, a queer combination that her society of origin deems an aberration, Garnet’s coming out becomes a political act worthy of a rebellion.
For the record, the entirety of Steven Universe should be considered required queer viewing.
Jeremy Chetri, Wynonna Earp - Season 2, Episode 4: “She Ain’t Right”
Characters from Wynonna Earp didn’t make the list twice by accident. It’s a show that boasts three queer characters in the main cast—and none of them die, beautifully thwarting the Bury Your Gays trope.
In Season 2, Jeremy Chetri joins the Earp team and once he does, it’s hard to imagine them without him. In “She Ain’t Right,” Dolls becomes very ill, lacking access to a serum that can help him. Wynonna brings in Jeremy, who Dolls knows from their work at a covert branch of the government concerned with the paranormal, to help administer the serum. When a fellow scientist tries to seduce him, Jeremy tells her that she “is a girl,” implying that that’s why he’s not interested.
Jeremy being gay is explicitly acknowledged in later episodes, and while the way this coming out happens is a little weird, Jeremy is so damn irresistible as a character, we had to put him on the list.
His coming out, so simple, so accepted, and so unremarkable is also list-worthy because it shows that not every coming out has to require a script and not every coming out has to be a big deal.